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President Rivlin hosts Christian community leaders for reception marking civil New Year

 

President Rivin: "A faithful Jew cannot be anti-Christian or anti-Muslim."

 

"We all have a duty, at the beginning of the New Year, and every day, to stand together, and show the world that the conflict in this region is not a war about religion, it is a war against hate."

 

President Reuven Rivlin this morning (Monday), hosted the traditional annual reception for leaders of Israel's Christian communities to mark the civil New Year. Speaking at the event along with the President was Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Theophilos III. In addition, the event was attended by heads of various churches in Israel, senior members of the community, and representatives of the Israeli government.

 

President Rivlin began by noting that the last year had marked fifty years since the Nostra Aetate declaration, which defined the Catholic Church's policy against anti-Semitism and - as the President noted - paved the way for dialogue between the Jewish and Catholic communities. The President said, "I was honored this year, to meet with the Pope in the Vatican, where we spoke about how this relationship has grown stronger over the years. I appreciate very much what he said against anti-Semitism, and against converting Jews. His message of understanding and acceptance reflects both Christian and Jewish ideas – 'Love your neighbor, like yourself'. Pope Francis said, 'A true Christian cannot be an anti-Semite'. Let me say – a faithful Jew cannot be anti-Christian or anti-Muslim. The Ten Commandments – holy to Jews and Christians – teach respect for God and respect for man. These values do not go against each other, they go with each other. At the same time, the Jewish and democratic values of Israel go hand in hand."

 

The President added, "I am proud that Israel protects the freedom of worship and expression for everyone, of every faith. It is not enough for us to only be a safe home for Christians. We want the community to prosper, and play a part in Israeli society."

 

He concluded by wishing the Christian communities a joyful festive season, and said, "Jerusalem is the center of the world. Billions of people look to this city in hope and prayer. We all have a duty - at the beginning of the New Year and every day - to stand together and show the world that the conflict in this region is not a war about religion, it is a war against hate. We must work to build bridges between our communities, in the Holy Land and around the world. We must build dialogue, and show that people with different beliefs can live side by side, and even together; in schools and universities, in the workplace, in parliament, and even on the soccer field. This has been my mission as President, and it is a task which lies before all of us. This house, as the house of all the Israeli people, is your house too - my door is always open."

 

In response, representing the Church heads, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem His Beatitude Theophilos III said, "In this festive season, we greet you Mr. President, and wish to express our appreciation for the strong stand you have continued to take in demonstrating respect for all religions, and your condemnation of violence from whatever side it comes. We understand the importance in the region of healthy diversity of ethnic and religious traditions, with true coexistence, mutual respect, and security for all. We join you in these affirmations and condemnations. Allow us to reiterate our commitment to education based on the principles of moral values that derive from our common heritage. This is paramount to the shaping of our social fabric."

 

Photo: Mark Neiman (GPO)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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President Rivlin welcomed her and said, “You are a dear friend of Israel. We appreciate your strong stand on the world’s most important stage, in support of the security of the people and the State of Israel. With your support we see the beginning of a new era. Israel is no longer alone at the UN. Israel is no longer the UN’s punching bag.”

He continued, “When I spoke at the UN on Holocaust Memorial Day, I said that the UN must learn from the lessons of the past, and stand up against hatred and racism. I said it must end its obsession with targeting Israel. Progress has been made. Israel’s standing at the UN has improved. But sadly, we have a long way to go. Both in holding to account, public statements made by officials, and in supporting regulation to reduce the ridiculous number of discussions and resolutions against Israel. This is also true in the Human Rights Council - which has been hijacked as a weapon against Israel - and in UNESCO, where they seek to rub out the history of the Jewish people.”

The President thanked the Ambassador for her great contribution to the State of Israel, and said, “Ambassador Haley, as the representative the US - Israel’s greatest and strongest ally - we appreciate very much your support of Israel, and all you do to stand up for the values of freedom and democracy which we share. Welcome to Israel, welcome to Jerusalem.”

Ambassador Haley thanked the President for his warm welcome and said, “Thank you Mr. President for taking the time to meet with us, it is an absolute thrill to be here in Israel, I so much appreciate the support we have received from the people of Israel. But I feel somewhat guilty because all I did at the United Nations was tell the truth. I have never taken kindly to bullies, and the UN has bullied Israel for a very long time, and we are not going to let that happen anymore. It is a new day for Israel in the United Nations. We just got back from Geneva, talking about the Human Rights Council and hopefully it will be a new day at the Human Rights Council when it comes to Israel.”

She concluded by saying she was greatly looking forward to her visit to Israel and said, “I am looking forward to taking in the history, the beauty, the tradition, and all that comes with the magic of Israel. Thank you very much for having me it is a pleasure to be here.”

Photo credit: Mark Neiman (GPO)

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